Mobil Corp. may be the biggest company to hit this neck of the woods, but its tug-of-war skills need work. The oil company, which will move its headquarters to Fairfax later this year, lost a bitter battle recently to Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc. of Bethesda in the ninth annual Northern Virginia-Maryland Suburban version of the Computerland-Toshiba Corporate Sports Battle.

The competition, which benefits local chapters of the Special Olympics, featured teams of 20 employees from 14 Maryland and Virginia companies in everything from wheelbarrow races to obstacle courses to volleyball. Mobil and Booz-Allen dominated the one-day competition held in Oakton, and were virtually tied going into the final, Mobil-crushing, event: the tug of war.

John Sherburne, team captain for US Sprint, which came in fifth, said that despite Mobil's and Booz-Allen's clear superiority in this year's event, next year could still offer the also-rans a chance at the title. "If you've won the year before, then you have to have at least half of your team brand-new" the following year, he said. Booz-Allen's team won an all-expenses-paid trip to Boca Raton, Fla., in November, where they will compete in the finals against 15 other teams from around the country.